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Publisher's Summary

National Best Seller

“Magnificent.” (The New York Times)

“Beguiling, observant, and howlingly funny.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Spectacular.” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis)

“Full of astonishments.” (The Boston Globe)

Susan Orlean - the beloved New Yorker staff writer hailed as “a national treasure” by The Washington Post and the author of the New York Times best seller The Library Book - gathers a lifetime of musings, meditations, and in-depth profiles about animals.

“How we interact with animals has preoccupied philosophers, poets, and naturalists for ages,” writes Susan Orlean. Since the age of six, when Orlean wrote and illustrated a book called Herbert the Near-Sighted Pigeon, she’s been drawn to stories about how we live with animals, and how they abide by us. Now, in On Animals, she examines animal-human relationships through the compelling tales she has written over the course of her celebrated career.

These stories consider a range of creatures - the household pets we dote on, the animals we raise to end up as meat on our plates, the creatures who could eat us for dinner, the various tamed and untamed animals we share our planet with who are central to human life. In her own backyard, Orlean discovers the delights of keeping chickens. In a different backyard, in New Jersey, she meets a woman who has 23 pet tigers - something none of her neighbors knew about until one of the tigers escapes. In Iceland, the world’s most famous whale resists the efforts to set him free; in Morocco, the world’s hardest-working donkeys find respite at a special clinic. We meet a show dog and a lost dog and a pigeon who knows exactly how to get home. 

Equal parts delightful and profound, enriched by Orlean’s stylish prose and precise research, these stories celebrate the meaningful cross-species connections that grace our collective existence.

©2021 Susan Orlean. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about On Animals

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Learned so Much from this Work

As someone who volunteered extensively in my life for wildlife and companion-animal organizations at the top of their game, I found Susan Orleans' book highly intelligent, deeply humane, filled with revelations about dogs, homing pigeons, mules, livestock species and so much more. It was one of my favorites of the past five years on Audible.

Gathered largely from her commentaries in The New Yorker, it will bring solace and discovery to anyone who loves well-crafted animal essays, and fine storytelling too.

I disagree with the reader who found Ms. Orleans' voice unlistenable. I suspect that individual has difficulty tolerating an East Coast voice -- as many do in my part of the country. Her voice suits the material beautifully. It can be sharp at times, but even then, the voice suits the material.

The author's stories are also filled with humor and pathos, two qualities that help us focus on what is beautiful and important in this profoundly changed country. I will listen to it again and recommend it to my coworkers and friends. Extremely worthwhile.

5 people found this helpful

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Love this Collection

I have long been a fan of Susan's writing and reading. Some of these stories have appeared on other audiobook, also read by the author, but most of this is new to me. One odd anomaly is that the audio here seems electronically slowed down. If you change the plackback speed to 1.10 or 1.15, maybe even 1.20, it sounds MUCH closer to the author's natural voice.

I am reiterating here to "Birdman", the RECORDING IS SLOWED DOWN. I am NOT criticizing the narrators voice or reading, I am commenting on a technical issue. This IS NOT her natural voice, it is artificially slowed down. If you think otherwise, listen to audible freebie of Animalish, which an actual-speed recording, vs. the recording of Animalish included here, which is slowed down by aproximately 15%.

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Excellent reading of a delightful essay collection

Susan Orlean's narration makes this audiobook a must-listen. Her wry delivery is hilarious and impossible to resist. I hugged my dog a little closer after finishing the book, and didn't want it to end.

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  • jb
  • 12-10-21

Susan Orlean is such a wonderful writer!

Listening to this book was thoroughly enjoyable! Any animal lover would appreciate the depth with which Susan Orlean explores her topics. And she save me a ton of effort and money! I always had a fantasy about owning a country home with chickens, goats, and a whole menagerie of farm animals, but the prevalence of deer ticks alone
In the Hudson Valley is enough to dissuade me. Who am I kidding?
This isn’t a page turner, and though I always prefer to have an author read his or her own work, Ms. Orleans voice is a bit monochromatic. But this is a minuscule contraction and an otherwise delightful experience!

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Love Susan Orlean Writing

I am a super fan of Ms. Orlean. I love the way she tells a story. Although I didn’t find this book as compelling as The Library Book or The Orchid Thief, I still loved it. I would read anything she writes! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys her writing style.